Hornets have 45th overall pick in June 23 draft

Thursday, May 5, 2011
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

For the first time since the inaugural season of the Hornets’ tenure in the city of New Orleans, the team could officially enter the NBA draft without a first-round pick (though the Hornets did immediately trade their first-rounder in 2008). New Orleans dealt its 2011 first-round pick in the October trade with Portland that landed Jerryd Bayless, a transaction that led to the Jarrett Jack pickup in November. The Hornets’ second-round pick in the June 23 draft will be the No. 45 overall selection.

Although general manager Dell Demps said teams always explore ways to acquire a selection among the top 30 choices, it could be a challenging proposition this time. “It’s difficult to get into the draft,” Demps said, when asked specifically if he’ll try to obtain a first-round pick. “Usually to get into the draft, you have to give up something (significant). We’ll have our eyes and ears open. If the opportunity presents itself that we feel makes us a better team, we won’t hesitate. Right now we’re just going to look at all possibilities and see what’s available.”

The scouting of NBA prospects has evolved into a year-round process, one that will continue for Demps and his staff this weekend in New Jersey. A workout camp will be held there that features many underclassmen who are mulling whether to remain draft-eligible, or to withdraw their names so they can return to college in 2011-12 and retain their amateur status. The camp was necessitated by the NCAA’s decision to move the deadline for declaring for the draft up by more than a month, from June to early May. Demps and the Hornets’ front office also attended a draft workout featuring University of Kentucky players on Tuesday.

“Myself and our staff – (assistant general manager) Tim (Connelly) and (VP of player personnel) Gerald (Madkins) – we’ve been getting out and hitting the road,” Demps said. “Scouting has changed a little bit in the last couple of years. We’ll have people on our staff (in New Jersey), including myself, up there this weekend.”

Instead of holding countless workouts for prospects in a team’s city, you may see clubs try to capitalize on organized group-scouting events such as the one in the Garden State on Saturday and Sunday. “Right now, it’s easier to go out and watch than to bring guys in,” Demps explained. “Especially since we don’t have a first-round pick. We’ll be at the pre-draft camp, we’ll go to another workout right after that – it seems a little bit easier to go out to the guys than to try to bring them all here. Once it gets to June, and we have some guys we really want to look at closely, we’ll bring them in.”

Incidentally, the reason the Hornets’ second-round pick is in the No. 45 slot is due to their September trade with the Philadelphia 76ers that featured Willie Green, Jason Smith, Darius Songaila and Craig Brackins. As part of that deal, New Orleans was given the option to swap second-round picks with Philadelphia. Since the 76ers (41-41) finished with a worse record than the Hornets (46-36), NOLA was able to move up five slots. Philadelphia’s pick will be No. 50 overall.

HORNETS FIRST-ROUND PICKS SINCE MOVING TO NEW ORLEANS
2002: None
2003: David West (No. 18 overall)
2004: J.R. Smith (No. 18)
2005: Chris Paul (No. 4)
2006: Hilton Armstrong (No. 12), Cedric Simmons (No. 15)
2007: Julian Wright (No. 13)
2008: Darrell Arthur (No. 27, traded on draft night)
2009: Darren Collison (No. 21)
2010: Cole Aldrich (No. 11, traded on draft night)